Sinquefield Lobbyist Fundraising for ALEC Party Night

Deanna Hemphill, a registered lobbyist with Rex Sinquefield-backed Pelopidas LLC, and Peggy Brand, a registered lobbyist with Celgene Corporation, are the 2015 private sector Missouri chairs for this summer’s American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) junket, scheduled to be held in San Diego later this month.

An email obtained by Progress Missouri shows that Hemphill, a lobbyist for Sinquefield and several of his front groups, is seeking financial help from other corporations and special interest groups for “Missouri Night,” an annual event during the ALEC trip in which Jefferson City-based lobbyists take Missouri politicians out for a very nice, very expensive meal. 

Sinquefield’s various outfits have been major sponsors of ALEC events in the past. In 2013, Travis Brown, a well known Sinquefield-funded lobbyist, said Pelopidas LLC “paid a six-figure financial sponsorship to ALEC.” At this year’s junket, Travis Brown is a featured speaker. Sinquefield founded The Show-Me Institute in 2005, which has gone on to become a State Policy Network member, a major funder of ALEC annual junkets.

This year’s extravagant “Missouri Night” meal will be held at Greystone Steakhouse Restaurant, where steak prices start at $42 and spaghetti is $28. The online reviews highlight how expensive a meal at Greystone can run - one group of 13 spent almost $4,000 on their evening.

In previous years, very expensive meals like this during ALEC junkets have been reported as group expenditures to the entire Missouri legislature, despite some members not being invited to the meeting. By declaring their gifts “group expenditures,” legislators are able to limit the public’s ability to know exactly who is wined and dined on ALEC-sponsored trips.

In fact, a complaint we filed last year with the Missouri Ethics Commission is still being investigated and reviewed. In that complaint we showed six different legislators filed ALEC-related expenditures to the general assembly after the 2014 Dallas junket even though two representatives went on the record saying they were not invited, invalidating their claim to pass along the gifts to the body at large.

Taxpayers fund state representatives and senators to represent their policy interests and instead, the legislators are bought out by a corporate think tank and one individual to represent their interests.

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